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June 15, 2016
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) hosted the agency's inaugural Minority Affairs Collaboration Roundtable on June 15, 2016, at its Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Attendees discussed several topics including financial service innovations, compliance with the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), consumer protection, supplier diversity and small business banking.
Attendees included leaders from national minority organizations: Neera Bahl, U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce; Marla Bilonick, President, Latino Economic Development Center; Cornell Brooks, President, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Cristina Danforth, President, Native American Finance Officers Association; Wade Henderson, President, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights; and Marc Morial, President, National Urban League.
Thomas J. Curry, Comptroller of the Currency, led the discussion. Other OCC participants included Paul Nash, Senior Deputy Comptroller and Chief of Staff; Amy Friend, Senior Deputy Comptroller and Chief Counsel; Grovetta Gardineer, Senior Deputy Comptroller for Compliance and Community Affairs; Larry Hattix, Senior Deputy Comptroller for Enterprise Governance and Ombudsman; Kris McIntire, Deputy Comptroller for Large Bank Supervision, Donna Murphy, Deputy Comptroller for Compliance Risk; Bryan Hubbard, Deputy Comptroller for Public Affairs; Rusty Thompson, Deputy Comptroller and Chief Accountant; Bill Haas, Deputy Comptroller for Midsize Bank Supervision; Kenneth Lennon, Acting Director, Community and Consumer Law – now Director, Community and Consumer Law; Joyce Cofield, Executive Director, Office of Minority and Women Inclusion; Glenda Cross, Director for Minority Outreach; Carrie Moore, Director for Congressional Relations; Beverly Cole, Senior Advisor, Midsize and Community Bank Supervision – now Deputy Comptroller of Compliance Supervision; and Andrew Moss, Community Relations and Minority Affairs Manager.
During his remarks, the Comptroller discussed the importance of the meeting and recognized that the financial crisis had a severe impact on minority communities. He called for greater collaboration among the OCC and minority organizations to better understand the financial challenges facing these communities.
The Comptroller also discussed the agency's efforts to develop a framework to identify and assess innovation in the federal banking system. Several participants commented that responsible innovation had the potential to expand financial inclusion within minority communities, and that consumer protections must apply to innovative financial products or services.
The participants agreed that enhancing financial literacy is important for minority communities to take full advantage of innovation that was occurring in the marketplace, and recommended that banks be encouraged to provide resources to support community advocates and non-profit associations whose missions are to educate consumers.
OCC's leadership opened a dialogue about CRA by noting its importance in today's banking environment. Participants expressed a perception that banks are using new approaches to meeting their CRA requirements beyond traditional investments and services offered to communities within their assessment areas. One participant also suggested that postal banks could help increase the availability of banking services in minority communities.
Participants from the agency and community groups relayed that many minority communities lack an understanding of CRA, need to be better informed, and expressed interest in further interagency cooperation and outreach related to CRA.
OCC participants discussed consumer protection since the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. They provided clarification about the agency's role as compared with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. OCC's Ombudsman joined the discussion regarding the role of the agency, including how the OCC handles and resolves consumer complaints.
Participants expressed interest in increasing supplier diversity and ensuring minority-owned small businesses had greater access to banking services.
Participants asked for more information about how the OCC achieves diversity in its procurement process. Joyce Cofield, the OCC's Executive Director, Office of Minority and Women Inclusion, provided an overview of the agency's procurement activity, and indicated that 30 percent of the OCC's annual $150 million in contracts is awarded to women and minority vendors.1 Participants communicated the challenges facing minority small businesses and the effects of the financial crisis on those entities, and also stressed the importance of supporting minority-owned small businesses.
The representative from the Native American Finance Officers Association mentioned the unique issues Tribal Governments, tribal-owned businesses, and Native Americans face accessing banking services, and raised policy concerns regarding accounting requirements established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
In summary, the roundtable afforded an excellent opportunity for the OCC and leaders of minority community groups and organizations to discuss matters of mutual interest.
Comptroller Curry closed the meeting by emphasizing the importance of continuing this dialogue, which could include annual meetings among the leaders of these organizations. He also indicated that OCC staff would communicate more regularly, and directed staff to coordinate those efforts.
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1 OCC's Office of Minority and Women Inclusion. (2015). Annual Report to congress (p. 7). Washington, DC